Public Services > Central Government

Department of Health digital strategy to embrace collegiate role

David Bicknell Published 21 December 2012

Digital leader Rachel Neaman outlines plans to develop community of digital specialists in health and care system

The publication of digital strategies today by government departments today has highlighted that departments' drivers are different, and so are their strategies and their approaches to publishing.

Unlike other transactional departments' strategies, the Department of Health's digital strategy - delivered as a website - focuses instead on the department itself as a strategic department of state, and on both its policymaking role and its role as steward of the new health and care system.

It sets out the Department of Health's aim to become a digital exemplar in Whitehall, giving its staff the knowledge, skills, permission and confidence to embrace digital opportunities to deliver better health, better care and better value for all.

This strategy also sets the direction for that programme of change, and demonstrates how the future Department of Health can lead the way as a digital department of state, and provide policy leadership for a digitally enabled and technologically ambitious health and care system.

Rachel Neaman, the department's digital leader - she is also the deputy director, digital, channel strategy and publishing - said that although the government digital strategy focuses very much on transactional services, the Department of Health's position is different to other departments.

"The Department of Health does not have transactional services for the public and that is particularly the case with the new health reforms. So when the new hew health system comes into full establishment from the 1st April, there is even more of a separation because we will no longer be the headquarters of the NHS.

"And while we are ultimately responsible for the delivery of those services out there and I have a role to design and define those with the NHS, from the 1st April, that will stop, although I will be working very closely with Tim Kelsey and the Commissioning Board and with Public Health England."

"The department's role is to be the steward of the new health and care system and therefore what I will be doing will be trying to ensure that the new health and care system is following the principles that we are setting across government. It is all about being very collegiate and being a 'hub and spoke' for the whole health and care system that says 'this is how we do things'. This is where people can come and share experiences and jointly own it and develop it so that it becomes a digital resource centre."

"What I will be doing over the next year is working with our arm's length bodies to develop a real community of digital specialists out in the health and care system."

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